”The officer had the info in front of him. He disregarded information on the ship’s computer. [The computer was telling him] the approaching aircraft was not a military plane.”
US Official commenting on the Pentagon Report
For immemorial times, Captains have exercised absolute authority at sea. Consequently, early insurance writs, agreements with ship owners and passengers and the Board of Trade, dubbed them “Master Under God”.
This long tradition, it seems, has been broken. Capt. Will C. Rogers 3d, the commanding officer of the USS Vincennes, will go unpunished for his responsibility in the murder of 290 innocents, including more than 60 children. Of course, some observers, such MIT retired Professor Noam Chomsky, disagree.
“The Commander of the Vincennes did not go unpunished. In April 1990, George Bush conferred upon him the Legion of Merit award, along with the officer in charge of anti-air warfare, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service and for the calm and professional atmosphere under his command during the period when airliner was shot down. The tragedy isn’t mentioned in the texts of the citations. The media kept a dutiful silence, at home, that is. In the less disciplined Third World, the facts were reported in reviews of US terrorism,” Chomsky wrote. 
The Pentagon Report of the Investigation has singled out the officer responsible for coordinating the ship’s sensors and weapon systems. Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will soon advise Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci on whether anyone should be punished.
Neither man has to follow the recommendations. Admiral Crowe could decide that nobody should be reprimanded. He might also determine that the Navy should reprimand more senior officers. Once upon a time, the Navy holds a ship’s captain responsible for everything that happens on his ship. But the again, this was once upon a time…
US to Pay Some UN Ops
The US administration has decided to pay for new peacekeeping operations. However, it will continue to withhold its regular contribution. The United States’ failure to pay the United Nations $467 million in back dues is endangering several current peace efforts.
This two tracks approach to the issue will at least solve the urgent need for funds regarding the peace monitoring UN mission to be soon deployed in Iraq and Iran.
The Race to the White House
Last night, President Reagan addressed the Republican National Convention in New Orleans. The speech will be forever remembered for an apparently Freudian slip of the tongue.
“Facts are stupid things,” Reagan said. The President was of course misquoting John Adams who once pointed that “Facts are stubborn things,”
Khalid Jaafar keeps orbiting the planet. His average velocity for the second part of 1988 must be a world record! On Aug. 16 1988, he flies RJ from Damascus to Amman, then from Amman to Beirut with ME 312. I wonder how this jobless penniless Lebanese born, who obtained US citizenship earlier this year, is paying for his travels. And I still do not know how, and why, he was able to obtain a US Visa in Beirut.
Indeed, why would the US embassy in Beirut grant him such visa, considering that it is illegal for a US citizen to enter the United States on a foreign passport? And I remind the reader that, in July 1988, the US embassy in Beirut was only issuing Visas to government officials and their own employees. See Part 16 – JULY 18 1988
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